Open floor plans are extremely popular among contemporary designers and homeowners, what with the design style pushing forward freedom and flexibility in living. Walls generally constrict the function of a particular room, and an open space does away with exactly that. Now, people can choose to make their spaces work for them.
However, an open floor plan may feel too freeing and direction-less; at the end of the day, you still need a living room, a kitchen space, a place to rest your head, and in today's world — a home office. How can you separate your living, dining, and sleeping spaces without cutting your studio apartment in thirds? How do you make sure your entire home is functional and builds privacy without putting up walls and closing everything down? Here are 4 tips to create distinct, functional areas in a space without losing that feeling of flow and openness:
Strategically place your bookshelves and living room seating.
In short, arrange your furniture with the intent of defining clear zones in your open space. An open floor plan assumes that all rooms are contained in one large area, which means the wrong furniture placement may make or break the overall function of a space.
Bookshelves and storage cabinets can act as make-shift walls in an open space with only 4 corners. Open shelves can create distinct zones such as reading nooks or a home office; they can also be used to split a sleeping area from the rest of the space, especially in a no-bedroom unit. For maximum functionality, make sure the shelves are accessible from both sides, making them storage units for the two "rooms" they demarcate.
On the other hand, living room furniture like large, backless couches and divans can serve as "room-cutters" without blocking your line of vision. Lay them out in such a way that they still feel separate from your food station, like setting them in an L-shape.
Sliding shutters or in-home glass dividers do the trick.
If you're willing to commit to a permanent division in a home but don't see the need to build interior walls, consider installing dividers instead. Dividers in this case can mean anything from sliding folding shutters typically found in beach houses to tie-back curtains hanging from the ceiling. Floor-to-ceiling vertical wooden slats or sliding glass doors also effectively demarcate spaces without the clunk of actual walls.
Another great thing about dividers is that they don't block air flow the same way walls do; all you need is a splitter that can be tucked in or laid out, or one that has openings carved into it.
If you're a tenant and can't make any lasting constructions to the space, free-standing dividers may be your best friend. Sliding panels and decorative dividers are all the rage in interior design (thanks to the long-standing popularity of open concept homes) and can quickly transform your space into one that functions for you. These particular dividers are also great for when you decide to redo the layout of your open floor plan anytime and with total freedom.
Take it to the floors.
Changing paint colors or wallpapers is everyone's go-to when it comes to separating areas in an open floor plan home, but changing up your floors is just as effective. Using a specific tile for the entryway and choosing another for the living space makes the former a specified space for a certain function. Splitting the kitchen into an area with tile and another with wooden planks decidedly marks the cooking and washing areas, and the dining set-up. The task is to make sure that floor transitions are as seamless as possible and make sense within the context and overall design of the space. Play within the same color palettes — although neutrals are easiest to match — and don't be afraid of interesting shapes and layouts. If you take the risk, you can turn your floors into a design moment of everyone's envy.
Ceilings are another fun space to play around with when it comes to demarcating a specific area in your home. A decked out ceiling with fancy chandelier lighting can easily mark your dining area as separate from your kitchen and breakfast bar. A floating ceiling turns a particular area in the home into a distinct zone — think recessed roofs for the living area or the sleeping nook.
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Home accessories like area rugs and indoor plants work just as well in dividing a space.
Not everyone has the luxury to install glass doors, replace flooring or paint walls, or even buy large furniture to divide an open space. If you're a tenant, you'll find that most of the time, you rely on home accessories and other knick-knacks to revamp the space. You inject color with artwork hung using a command hook instead of with wallpaper. You implement your preferred interior design style without touching the floors or messing up the recessed fixtures - just with your trusty ornaments and trinkets.
To create specific areas in an open floor plan all while making a statement, you can also count on your home décor. Area rugs, although on the pricier side, are effective when it comes to identifying zones in an open layout. They work best in your living room setup or, if you don't mind the potential risks, in your dining area. They also look great under your bed (if you're staying in a studio apartment.)
Other home accessories that easily delineate spaces at home are indoor plants. Lining up medium- to large-sized plants can break up a large room or create a sort of hallway in a direction-less space. If you're a fan of the boho maximalist design style, this may be the way to go. You not only cash in the advantages of a temporary re-layout, but you also reap the benefits of introducing greenery to your interior, i.e. less headaches and fatigue thanks to good quality air and stress reduction.